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Victims of Uganda’s Notorious Gang Rebuild Lives that were Stolen from Them

When Victoria Nyanjura was abducted from her Catholic boarding school in northern Uganda by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, she prayed to God asking to die. She was 14 when she was taken, along with 29 others, in the middle of the night. During the next eight years in captivity, she was subjected to beatings, starvation, rape and other horrors that she cannot talk about even 18 years later. After a dramatic escape one rainy night, Nyanjura was able to return to her family with her children, go back into education and start the process of healing. Previously, she had dreamed of becoming an engineer, but she changed direction and instead studied development and global affairs. Her aim was to go back to her community and “do something”. Now, her work has helped push through a major law reform in Uganda. She coordinated the Women’s Advocacy Network, made up of more than 900 women who were also survivors of the war in northern Uganda. Together they launched a petition in 2014 asking the Ugandan parliament to address the challenges they faced as they tried to rebuild their lives. She is determined to use survivors’ voices to instigate more change at the grassroots, national and international levels. In 2018 she founded Women in Action for Women, an organisation that focuses on the livelihoods of women.